U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, likened the country’s dependence on overseas pharmaceuticals to its 1970s-era reliance on foreign oil during a stop in Richmond Hill last week.
“There’s a difference between knowing something and realizing it. We knew then we were too dependent on foreign oil for our energy needs ….” he said during a July 16 lunch at the Richmond Hill Rotary Club. “We knew before this pandemic struck we are too dependent on China for our pharmaceutical needs, and now we’re realizing it.”
Carter, who said China is supplying about 90 percent of all the country’s antibiotics and drugs such as ibuprofen, is co-sponsoring a bill with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican, meant to solve that problem.
Carter said the bill, called the “Manufacturing API, Drugs, and Excipients (MADE) in America Act,” is aimed at bringing companies that manufacture drugs and personal protective the U.S. using incentives, “not the least of which is to try to shame them into coming back.”
It was one of several topics addressed by Carter, who easily beat challengers Danny Merritt and Ken Yasger in the Republican primary in June. He’ll face either Richmond Hill Lisa Ring or Savannah’s Joyce Griggs in the November election.
A longtime state representative and former mayor of Pooler, Carter also updated Rotarians on Pres. Donald Trump’s recent visit to Atlanta and changes to the National Environmental Policy Act, a move he said would help speed up projects without harming the environment.
“That policy hasn’t been updated in the last 40 years,” he said. “It takes on average seven years just on environmental review just before you even start a project.”
Carter said the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is the most reviewed in history, given that it started in 1995 and didn’t break ground until 2015. Changes to the NEPA will cut environmental impact review times from seven years to two years, the Congressman said, adding that the Hoover Dam was built in five years, the Golden Gate Bridge in four years and the Empire State building in a single year.
“It’s erroneous to think the longer you spend on a review the better the review is,” he said. “You can do just as good for the environment in two years as you can in seven. This is a result of having a businessman in the White House, someone who truly understands business.”
Carter said Pres. Donald Trump was in Atlanta to talk about the impact of shorter reviews due to plans to add more lanes to I-75 between Macon and McDonough to help ease a bottleneck, which will ultimately help move more products to and from Savannah’s ports.
“That’s good news for us,” he said.
Carter also spoke of federal efforts to bolster the economy during the pandemic, which included some $3 trillion in spending. “That’s the first time I ever voted for a bill that a T behind a dollar mark,” he said.
He praised the Paycheck Protection Program, which remains available to businesses until Aug. 8, and said the next federal package is still being shaped. He said it’s likely that will include a stimulus payment to individuals, though it may go to those making $40,000 or less.
“It’s hard to say what’s going to be included,” said Carter, outlining a $3 trillion difference between what Republicans and Democrats say they will vote for. “I recognize there are people still in need, and people still hurting. I’m not saying I won’t vote for anything, I’m just saying I want to see it first.”
He later said the $600 per week unemployment checks sent by the federal government as part of the CARES act should end July 31, and federal unemployment should be based on wages and cost of living, though that’s likely to be debated in the next package.
Carter also emphasized the importance of wearing masks and practicing social distancing as COVID-19 numbers continue to climb.
“I’m not sure it should be mandated,” he said. “We should do it on our own personal recognizance. We should be personally responsible for ourselves. Wearing a mask, washing our hands, practicing social distancing. Those things are incumbent upon us as individuals to do, whether they’re mandated or not. And we really don’t have the time to be arguing that point. We all need to be practicing it. If we’re not going to do it for ourselves, we should do it out of consideration for others.”
Carter was also asked about civil unrest going on in various parts of the country.
“Look, black lives matter,” he said. “I agree with that statement. I do think they matter, and I don’t think there’s any question about that. Black families matter, black dads matter. Our society is not going to be viable unless we have a strong black family unit.”
Carter said he doesn’t agree with the Black Lives Matter movement, which he called “a Marxist socialist movement pushed by the liberal part of this country.”
But, Carter added, “I do agree what happened to (George Floyd) should not be tolerated, and what happened to Ahmaud Arbery should not be tolerated. We should be protesting what has happened to both those men and to others. However, we have to do it in a productive manner.”
Carter said community leaders in Brunswick deserve praise for the way they’ve worked to effect change after Arbery’s killing while keeping protests peaceful.
“They are doing an outstanding job, and they’re getting results,” he said. “This looting we’re seeing in other cities, the crime, the destruction, that has to stop. Defunding the police is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”